The Joys of Fondant
Week 4 of the Battle of Bakers HK took place at the event space, Umami Concepts, where 9 contestants learnt the delicate art of fondant decoration under the expert tuition of Anouska Mutreja from the Rose Petal Cakery. They then presented their week's endeavour, the plated scone, to be judged with a view to eliminations.
Anouska asked each contestant to bring two sponge cakes with them, which they would learn to decorate with fondant icing. Most of these were simple sponges with the exception of the vegan contestant, Jeanne, who used chia seeds as an egg replacer. Everyone prepared buttercream as a filler, then levelled their cakes and rolled fondant to cloak them. Crisco was used to fill in any cracks and they learnt that it could also be used to give a glossy finish. More elaborate decorations came next with Anouska demonstrating the laborious work involved in manufacturing edible roses, with each taking around 30 minutes to prepare. They also practised chevron designs which could be stuck onto the cake with a little vegetable shortener. The contestants each had a go at their new skill in class, presenting commendable results, with smoothly iced cakes and magnificent roses.
The contestants presented their scones made during the week, accompanied by some notable, handmade condiments, and each plate fully exploiting the plating techniques they had learnt from Chef Nolan Ledarney in previous weeks. As usual, the contestants excelled themselves in level of skills shown, and more surprisingly for this round, with their diversity of results including sweet and savoury scones.
In terms of the latter, Indian cuisine appeared to dominate. Paridhi impressed again with her spice combinations in a scone made from 40% lentils and 60% flour. Her tamarind jam and sour cream sides were also excellent counters, although perhaps not necessarily when consumed at the same time. Jeanne made a curried, gluten-free scone packed with spinach and paneer cheese alongside a cucumber raitha, mango chutney and daal. While the flavours enthralled, the scone was a little dense, as perhaps to be expected from the omission of wheat.
Cheese was used in the other savoury offerings, with Karina making scones with walnut and dried figs, sandwiching a creamy Brie with a delightful fig chutney. While the towering height of these scones caused the judges to worry about the inside, in fact, she produced the softest scone of the day. Grace prepared a variety based on feta, nutmeg and chive alongside three homemade butters: basil & garlic, macadamia and jalapeno, the first of which was by far the most successful pairing. Last in the non-sweet category was Jessica, who incorporated caramelised onions, portabello mushrooms and truffle oil into her final result. While the scone was a little dense, the pepper jelly made to accompany it left every judge asking for the recipe.
More traditional but equally impressive, was a date and lemonade creation from Veronica, who selected this fizzy drink to create a light, airy texture. The rhubarb jam, both sweet and tart served as an excellent counter to the alkaline of the scone, although the latter did taste perhaps a little too floury. Cora had spent the week practising different recipes on her family, including one scone based on a lobster bisque. In the end she chose a mandarin flavour, with a tangy citrus jam including slithers of candied peel. While the texture was correct, there was no wow factor for the judges. "Sunshine on a Plate", produced by its namesake, was aptly described by one taster as "a vacation in my mouth" thanks to the baker's decision to use Malibu rum and pineapple as principal ingredients. However the coconut was a little drying on the palate. The only chocolate scone came from Jasmine, whose tangerine and cocoa based dessert was reminiscent of a Terry's chocolate orange. Luisa, absent due to travelling, took the time to deliver a fruity scone to Chef Nolan earlier in the week. The other judges were pleased to hear positive feedback on this, especially regarding the accompanying passion fruit curd. However, more disappointing was that he had not left them any to try.
Sadly, the judges said goodbye to Cora and Jessica this week, based on their scones as well as progress in general. That's not to say they have been lacking but more a reflection of how steep this competition has become!
The contestants' job this week is to find a themed invitation which they can transpose to fondant and thereby create the ultimate celebration cake. Given the effort already put it, the judges have high expectations which are likely to be surpassed if anything. They will meet next Saturday at theMixing Bowl in Sheung Wan for their next instalment of tuition but also, unfortunately, more eliminations.The following week's task will be to design a restaurant dessert, with the lucky winner picked by Secret Ingredient and their dessert added to the menu! Watch this space to find out more!